While Hollywood productions are the most popular in America, there are plenty of films and TV series from foreign countries that Americans love. Shows from Canada and Britain are often popular, plus Japanese animes and K-dramas are making significant strides in the American media landscape. From Squid Game (2021-) to Sherlock (2010-2017), these shows from outside the U.S. captivate American audiences.
1. The Great British Baking Show (2010-)
This world-renown amateur baking competition reality series takes British home bakers and puts them in a massive kitchen where they compete against each other in weekly challenges to prove their baking prowess. Every week, another baker gets eliminated, leading to the final, where the expert judges select the best baker.
2. Squid Game (2021-)
Squid Game is a popular Korean horror series on Netflix. When a severely im-debt man who relies on gambling to make ends meet receives an invitation to a mysterious competition with a massive prize fund, he signs up for the secretive game. After he arrives at a bleak warehouse filled with bunk beds and other contestants, he and the others learn that they must put their lives and morals on the line if they hope to walk away with the jackpot.
3. Doctor Who (2005-)
This British sci-fi adventure series has won over Americans since its premiere in 2005. It’s about a charismatic alien traveling the universe in his time-traveling spaceship with a human companion. Each episode explores a new alien planet, space station, or period on Earth, featuring wacky twists and turns.
4. Trailer Park Boys (2001-2018)
Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian mockumentary-style sitcom about three lawless friends living in a trailer park and planning over-the-top schemes to make money illegally. But their former trailer park manager has it out for the trio, so he and his assistant attempt to shut down their hijinks at every turn.
5. Lupin (2021-)
This thrilling French mystery series chronicles a son’s mission to avenge his father, whose boss falsely accused him of burglarizing a priceless diamond necklace. Over the years, the son is prepared to seek revenge against the boss until, finally, he is ready to pull off an incredible heist to reveal the actual thief’s identity once and for all.
6. Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)
An entitled, wealthy family loses all their money in a scam and must move to a rural town to start anew in this chuckle-inducing Canadian sitcom. The shocked father, melodramatic mother, and two whiny adult children move into a shoddy motel where they’re forced to discover what it’s like to be a small-town local.
7. The Crown (2016-)
Based on the true story of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the British series The Crown explores Queen Elizabeth’s life from the time she took the throne at age 25 in 1952 through modern times. I’m not a big fan of British period dramas, but The Crown won me over with its complex storytelling style and the incredible performances of actors like Claire Foy, Matt Smith, and Emma Corrin.
8. Dark (2017-2020)
When two boys disappear without a trace in a small German town, the local authorities scratch their heads at the lack of evidence left behind. As parents, officers, and other locals search for the truth behind the boys’ absence, they uncover dark secrets about the town’s past that lead them down a rabbit hole they may never escape.
9. Death Note (2006-2007)
This critically acclaimed Japanese anime psychological thriller begins when a top student with a big head happens upon a strange notebook in his school courtyard. When he brings it home, he discovers the notebook holds a sinister power: anyone whose name gets written in the book will die. Reeling with the knowledge of his new power, the student begins a vigilante mission to rid the world of crime and evil.
10. Downton Abbey (2010)
Downton Abbey is a British period drama that takes place in the early 20th century, beginning with the sinking of the Titanic and the onset of World War I. It’s about the wealthy Crawley family and their servants who, as the show begins, struggle to find an heir for Lord Grantham, whose former heir died when the Titanic sank.
11. Alice in Borderland (2020-)
This mysterious Japanese thriller takes place in an alternate universe where Tokyo’s ordinarily bustling streets become eerily quiet, and a small group of people find themselves trapped in a world where they must play deadly games or die. As the players complete more and more games, they hope they can leave this strange, deadly world and return to the Tokyo they knew before.
12. Killing Eve (2018-2022)
Killing Eve is a tense British thriller about the charismatic feud between a bored spy and a brutal assassin. After the spy is assigned to track down the hitwoman, the two engage in a passionate game of cat and mouse as they become morbidly obsessed with one another.
13. Attack on Titan (2013-2023)
The last remaining humans live walled up in a city in an attempt to protect themselves from the man-eating, tall-as-a-skyscraper monsters called Titans that roam the Earth in this agonizing horror anime. When the Titans launch an attack out of the blue and the walls become rubble, the humans must think fast before they all become dinner.
14. Deadloch (2023-)
Deadloch is a hilarious Australian murder mystery series that takes place at a small Tasmanian town’s annual winter festival. Three investigators take charge of the investigation when the body of a man turns up in the town, but they must keep their efforts to solve the murder a secret to maintain order.
15. Kim’s Convenience (2016-2021)
This endearing Canadian sitcom follows the Kim family as they operate their family-owned convenience store in Toronto. The show begins as Mrs. Kim desperately tries to rekindle a relationship between her stubborn husband and their estranged son while their daughter attempts to advance her photography skills.
16. Midnight Diner (2009-2014)
Midnight Diner is a unique Japanese series that’s set in a restaurant in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. The restaurant is open every day from midnight to seven a.m., and its customers can order whatever they please, as long as the chef has the ingredients. The show tells the story of a different customer and their meal of choice in every episode.
17. Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)
This British period crime drama takes place in the aftermath of World War I as a street gang called Peaky Blinders engages in increasingly risky endeavors and catches the eye of the authorities. But the leader of the gang dreams of nothing but vast wealth and will pursue any ambition he believes will bring that to him.
18. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022-)
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a Korean legal drama about an autistic lawyer whose immense talent for law gets overlooked by potential employers because of her disability. But when she lands a job at an elite Seoul law firm, she still struggles to prove her worth to her coworkers. However, it doesn’t take long until they realize what an asset as a lawyer and a great friend she is.
19. Sherlock (2010-2017)
This iconic British detective series follows amateur detective Sherlock Holmes and his flatmate Watson as they work together to solve crimes in their neighborhood. At first, the police find the men’s curiosity about the cases suspicious, but after seeing what Sherlock is capable of, they realize his skills can help them solve more crimes.
20. Hellbound (2021-)
Hellbound is a Korean thriller series about a terrifying, supernatural phenomenon that suddenly and inexplicably begins worldwide. People start receiving messages telling them they will die in a certain amount of time, and when the time comes, buff, fiery demons emerge from a portal and beat them to death. As the world comes to terms with the terrors of the event, a Korean cult begins to spread a horrifying new belief system in response to the dumbfounding tragedies.
21. Broadchurch (2013-2017)
This popular British crime mystery series begins after the body of a young boy appears on a serene beach. When a dedicated local detective’s superiors decline to put her in charge and instead bring in a detective from out of town to lead the investigation, she must put aside her envy to solve the crime and find justice for the boy’s family.
22. All of Us Are Dead (2022-)
All of Us Are Dead is a Korean zombie horror series that takes place in a high school, which becomes ground zero during the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse when a science experiment goes horribly wrong. As the survivors realize what’s going on, they must fight for their lives against the undead masses who were their friends and classmates just yesterday.
23. Letterkenny (2016-)
This Canadian sitcom takes place in the small town of Letterkenny and focuses on the lives of a farmer, his friends, and his family. For those who grew up in a rural farm town, this show will make you feel right at home with its wacky cast of locals.
24. Black Spot (2017-2019)
Black Spot is a French-Belgian supernatural crime thriller about the police chief of an isolated mountain village with a reputation. Known for its high rate of murders compared to other towns in the country, the village and its police department come under the scrutiny of a visiting prosecutor.
25. Top Gear (2002-)
This British motor talk show takes cars, trucks, and other vehicles and tests them to prove whether or not they live up to their manufacturer’s claims. Get ready to witness insane stunts, celebrity guest stars, and incredible feats of engineering.
Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.